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at Chicago Blackhawks
Sunday, March 25th, 2012 at 6:30pm CT
Chicago, IL – The Nashville Predators make their final trip of the 2011-12 season to the United Center tonight. The Predators are 16-22-2 in the Windy City all-time. Overall, the Predators are 3-0-1 against the Chicago Blackhawks this season.
These teams last met on Valentine’s Day, as the Predators edged the Blackhawks 3-2 in the Music City. The teams traded goals through the first 46 minutes of play, with Ryan Suter and Nick Spaling finding the back of the net for Nashville. With less than six minutes remaining, rookie Ryan Ellis notched his second career game-winner to seal the win for the Predators. Pekka Rinne turned aside 30 shots on the night.
Suter has six points (1g-5a) in his last seven games against Chicago. Martin Erat has 15 points (6g-9a) in his last 18 games against Chicago. David Legwand now has 52 career points (19g-33a) against Chicago, making him the first Predator to post 50 points against a single team in franchise history. He registered his first career hat-trick and first career four-point game (3g-1a) against Chicago on January 20th, 2007; it is one of just four hat tricks the Predators have notched against the Hawks all-time.
As Nashville makes a push for its seventh playoff berth in the last eight seasons, it has posted a 43-24-8 record for 94 points through 75 games. A season ago, Nashville was 40-25-10 for 90 points through 75 games. It went 4-2-1 in its final seven games of 2010-11 to finish with 99 points, good for fifth in the West. This season, the Preds play five of their final seven games against teams currently holding a playoff position.
This month has been a strong one for the Predators the past two-plus seasons; they have posted a 27-12-4 record in March since 2010. Nashville posted a franchise-record 11 wins during March 2010 (11-5-1 record) – a mark tied in January 2012 (11-2-0 record) – and went 10-3-2 in this month a season ago.
The Predators have won 19 road games this season, and are just one road win shy of posting at least 20 road victories for the third straight season. Four of Nashville’s final eight games will be played away from Bridgestone Arena, including two in the Central Time Zone, one in the Eastern and the final game of the regular season in the Mountain.
With its win over Detroit on March 10th, Nashville became just the second team in the NHL to post at least 40 wins in seven consecutive seasons – the Red Wings are the only other team to do so. The team accomplished the feat in just 68 games – the third fastest in franchise history. The Predators are now just two wins shy of the franchise’s 500th victory.
Last Time Out
Predators 3, Winnipeg 1 at Bridgestone Arena
Nashville posted their 15th win in a game decided by two goals – the League’s highest win total in those situations. The Predators rank second in the NHL in winning percentage in combined one- and-two-goal games (.708 )
Matt Halischuk opened the scoring for the Preds at 2:56 of the second period. It was his first marker since January 31st at Minnesota.
Kevin Klein matched his career-high 18 points (4g-14a) with his assist on Halischuk’s goal.
Gabriel Bourque notched his first-career GWG at 10:01 of the second. He has four points (1g-3a) in his last four outings.
Nick Spaling tallied an assist on Bourque’s goal – it was his first point in 13 games.
Andrei Kostitsyn notched the secondary assist on Bourque’s GWG. He has seven points (3g-4a) in 12 games as a Predator.
Shea Weber fired a game-high eight shots on goal – that ties the highest shot total by the Preds this season (Patric Hornqvist).
Nashville has scored 65 goals in the middle frame this season, including at least one goal in 19 of their last 22 second periods, outscoring the opposition 25-17 during that span. It has outscored the opposition by 15 in the second period (65-50) this season. That is the fourth-best differential in the NHL and second-best in the West behind only San Jose.
The Predators were shorthanded just one time for the fourth consecutive game. Their penalty kill was perfect for the 16th time in their last 19 games – they’ve killed 34 of 38 penalties during that span (89.4 percent). Nashville’s special teams are now plus-13 on the season after finishing plus-three in 2010-11.
Nashville has posted at least 10 shots in seven of their last 10 periods.
The Predators have posted a 14-3-3 record, including a 6-2-1 mark on the road, against the Central Division this season.
Nashville has posted a 25-10-4 record in its last 39 games, outscoring the opposition 117-94 (plus 23), despite being outshot 1,183-1,097 (minus 86).
Nashville’s power play has posted seven goals in its last eight games dating back to March 10th vs. Detroit. For the season, Nashville’s PP leads the League (21.5 percent). The team has posted 51 PPGs in 75 games this season, after scoring 41 PPGs in 82 games a season ago.
Nashville (104.3) ranks among the NHL’s top five teams in combined special teams play (PP%+PK%).
The Predators have six players – not including trade deadline acquisition Andrei Kostitsyn – with five or more power-play goals this season – the most of any team in the NHL. Pittsburgh and Vancouver are second with five players with at least five PPGs.
The Predators have 10 players who have scored 10 goals or more for them this season, tied for a League high with Detroit and Philadelphia. That doesn’t include Andrei Kostitsyn’s 15 goals – he brought 12 markers with him from Montreal.
With 40 victories on the year, Pekka Rinne holds the franchise-record and is tied for first in the League in the category. He leads the League in saves (1,841) and shots against (1,997), and ranks second in appearances (67). Nashville is 14-0-2 this season when Rinne makes 35 saves or more.
The Predators have sold out Smashville for a franchise-record 22 games this season – surpassing the previous record of 20 sellouts established during the 1999-2000 campaign. Bridgestone Arena is averaging 16,658 fans per home game this season – 97.3 percent capacity.
Radulov notched an assist on Matt Halischuk’s second-period goal, giving him two points (1g-1a) in two games since returning to the Predators lineup on March 22nd at Pittsburgh. Radulov recorded 20:29 of ice time in last night’s contest – the most of any Nashville forward.
Weber Solidifies Norris Candidacy
Last night, Shea Weber recorded an empty-net power-play goal at 19:50 of the third. That marker gives him 20 power-play points (9g-11a) on the season – tying the most power-play points in his career (7g-13a-20pts, 2009-10). Weber ranks among the Top 10 d-men in power-play points and leads all NHL d-men with nine PPGs on the year.
The Sicamous, B.C., native ranks among the League’s Top 10 d-men with 44 points on the year (15g-29a), while his 15 goals rank him third among blueliners. Weber is now plus-17 on the season – that ranks him second among defensemen with at least 40 points this season behind only Zdeno Chara.
The Predators are on the back-end of their 10th set of back-to-back games tonight after defeating Winnipeg last night 3-1 in the Music City. The Predators play just 11 sets of back-to-back contests this season, the lowest total in the team’s last four campaigns. Thus far, Nashville has posted a 7-3-0 record on the front end and a 4-5-0 record on the back half in 2011-12. A season ago, the Predators were 9-4-0 on the front end and 6-6-1 on the back end of two-games-in-two-nights scenarios.
The Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks hit the ice tonight at the United Center at 6:30pm.
TopicsAlexander Radulov, Andrei Kostitsyn, Bridgestone Arena, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago IL, David Legwand, Detroit Red Wings, Gabriel Bourque, Kevin Klein, Martin Erat, Matt Halischuk, Minnesota Wild, Music City, Nashville Predators, National Hockey League, NHL, Nick Spaling, Pekka Rinne, Pittsburgh Penguins, Predators, Ryan Ellis, Ryan Suter, San Jose Sharks, Shea Weber, United Center, Valentine's Day, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets
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